[lbo-talk] Hirst on Mona Lisa

Dennis Claxton ddclaxton at earthlink.net
Sat Dec 10 06:47:53 PST 2011

Here's a good argument for higher education. You can learn how and why Damien Hirst is an asshole.



It's enough to make most artists' concerns about flooding the market, not to mention the classic model of supply and demand, seem rather quaint. Doesn't he ever worry that the market just can't absorb another round of spot paintings?

A fast talker, Hirst offered several answers within a couple minutes.

"Who knows what a market is?" he said. "You learn by doing, really. If I put a painting outside a bar at closing time, and it's still there in the morning, it's a crap painting. With spot paintings, wherever you leave them, people are going to take them out of the dumpsters. It's an intrinsic thing that has nothing to do with how many you make."

He went on to tell a somewhat cryptic story about Larry Gagosian, without commentary. "I remember Larry once phoned me up, and he said he was worried about my production. He said: You are making too many paintings. And then, at the end of the conversation, he said: We need more paintings."

Hirst then recalled an early trip to L.A. "I remember flying into L.A. at a time when my paintings were 20,000 to 50,000 pounds and looking at the swimming pools here and thinking everyone who has a pool can afford one of these. The market is so much bigger than anyone realizes."

He also made an argument in favor of ubiquity. "You also have to ask yourself as an artist, 'What would be more appealing

to have made the Mona Lisa painting itself or have made the merchandising possibilities ­ putting a postcard on everyone's walls all over the world? Both are brilliant, but in a way I would probably prefer the postcards ­ just to get my art out there."

Then, winding down, Hirst took a more analytical approach: "I've looked at the amount of artworks I've made in my life: 4,800, not including prints. I know Warhol did 10,000 not including prints, and Picasso did 40,000. So I have a way to go."

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